Swift Prepared Foods to Build $200 Million Italian Meats Facility in Columbia

opens in a new windowSwift Prepared Foods, a subsidiary of opens in a new windowJBS USA, plans to build an Italian meats and charcuterie production facility in Columbia, Missouri.

The $200 million facility will be located at 5008 Paris Rd. in an industrial corridor that already includes opens in a new windowSchneider Electric Square D, opens in a new window3M, opens in a new windowKraft Foods, and opens in a new windowAurora Organic Dairy. It will employ more than 250 people and offer full-time positions with benefits.

“Missouri is a great place for the company to grow its business and develop a world-class workforce. This investment and the jobs it will create will provide many new opportunities for the Mid-Missouri region, and we look forward to seeing the company succeed for years to come,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said.

The consumer packaged goods company announced the project in August 2020. The company scouted multiple locations for the new facility, and executives chose Columbia because of the city’s strategic location, business-friendly environment, and the ability to access raw material and leverage synergies with existing strategic assets.

“We are excited to join the Columbia community and to bring good-paying jobs and innovation to the area with the addition of this new, state-of-the-art facility,” Thomas Lopez, president and chief operating officer of Swift Prepared Foods, said. “After an extensive review of potential locations, we are confident that Columbia is a great fit for our company, and this decision supports our focus on continued growth.”

The investment is consistent with the company’s long-term strategy to increase its value-added and branded portfolio with innovative, on-trend products. Swift Prepared Foods currently operates six production facilities in Mississippi, Indiana, Iowa, and Vermont. The company’s newest ready-to-eat bacon facility is opening in May in Moberly, Missouri.

Growing Businesses through Entrepreneurship Programs

REDI Hub clients and CoMo Cooks get businesses an outlet to expand.

REDI strives to grow startup businesses and foster a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem. One way REDI does this is through its entrepreneurship programs.

“The basic entrepreneurship program is becoming a Hub Client through REDI,” Jay Sparks, entrepreneurship coordinator, says.

The REDI Hub: What Is It?

The REDI Hub is a place for entrepreneurs to create and connect with a community of peers to grow their business and leadership skills, with resources provided by REDI and its partners, such as the Missouri Women’s Business Center.

“We provide entrepreneurs with a co-working space; access to meeting and training rooms, printers and copiers, and high-speed internet; business counseling; connections to community and business leaders; specialized events; and a network of entrepreneurs,” Jay says.

The Hub is located on Walnut Street in downtown Columbia, Missouri. It’s accessible 24/7 for clients to work. As REDI is a nonprofit organization, it doesn’t provide funding directly to clients, but Hub clients are connected with one-on-one coaching, loan and grant programs, and possibly venture capital firms as well as angel investors for their business.

The REDI Hub: Future Plans

“We don’t have a lot of big changes to make, just for the sake of making changes, but we’re looking forward to getting back in person, that’s for sure,” Jay says.

In March of 2020, restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic forced REDI to shut down the Hub temporarily. Most Hub businesses switched to working from home. REDI was able to provide  Hub clients with Zoom licenses through a partnership with MOREnet in order to make remote work more feasible.

“We were glad we could offer clients some resources during the pandemic, but it still wasn’t the same,” Jay says. “It’s the mix that is the best part — when the marketing consultant meets the hairdresser, who meets the lawyer, who meets the video producer, who meets the game designer — that inspires new ideas. And it’s tough to manufacture that.”

Other Programs

Another REDI-affiliated entrepreneurship program is COMO Cooks, a shared commercial kitchen organized in conjunction with The Loop Community Improvement District. The kitchen, located at Mizzou North, provides accessible, inclusive, and affordable kitchen space for starting and expanding local food-based businesses.

If you have an idea for a business or need a space to grow an existing one, contact Jay Sparks at (573) 441-5546 or Jay.Sparks@CoMo.gov.

Fostering a Strong Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

The CoMo Supplier Diversity Program offers business assistance to minority- and women-owned businesses. The Supplier Diversity Program is one way REDI helps grow startup businesses and fosters a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem across Mid-Missouri.

The Supplier Diversity Program, directed by James Whitt, has a strategic priority to build a strong and vibrant minority, women’s, and disadvantaged business community that can compete for work and thrive throughout Mid-Missouri. A strong and growing minority- and women-owned business ecosystem will provide good living wage jobs for workers and help reduce unemployment rates and lift more of our families out of poverty.

As our community continues to grow and become more diverse, it is imperative that we recognize the expertise, entrepreneurial spirit, and the economic contribution Mid-Missouri will receive from minority- and women-owned businesses and the value these businesses will provide to the overall success of our community.

“We help each business differently depending on their needs,” James says.

Depending on those needs, the Supplier Diversity Program can connect businesses to the Missouri Women’s Business Center and Small Business Administration. Minority- and women-owned businesses can also access REDI’s entrepreneurial programs, including the Innovation Hub and business coaching.

“The Supplier Diversity Program removes barriers for minority- and women-owned businesses by giving them the resources they need to succeed and compete in government and private-sector economic development,” James says.

Beyond providing business resources, the Supplier Diversity Program also manages the City of Columbia’s Minority- and Women-Owned Business Directory. The directory includes a list of minority- and women-owned businesses in Columbia. Users can filter their search by industry at MWBE.COMO.Gov.

As entrepreneurship continues to be a growing facet of economic development in the local economy, the Supplier Diversity Program helps support the creativity and innovation of minority- and women-owned businesses. To learn more about the Supplier Diversity Program, contact James Whitt at (573) 441-5544 or James.Whitt@CoMo.gov.

Cooking Up Food-Based Entrepreneurs in Mid-Missouri

How CoMo Cooks, a shared commercial kitchen, prepares food-based entrepreneurs for success

Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) has supported the Boone County community for more than 30 years. One way REDI has done this is by working with community partners to create programs that support local entrepreneurs.

To work with food-based entrepreneurs in Mid-Missouri, REDI has partnered with The Loop to create CoMo Cooks, a shared commercial kitchen located at Mizzou North. The kitchen — equipped with prep stations, fryers, food slicers, convection ovens, and more — is health department-certified.

Who uses the commercial kitchen?

According to Jay Sparks, the Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator at REDI, food truck operators, farmers, chefs, and caterers are just a few of the entrepreneurs leasing commercial kitchen space at CoMo Cooks.

“The space is really for anyone ready to transition beyond their own kitchens, which can be hard to get a health department certification for, to a large-scale commercial kitchen that is certified by the health department,” Jay says.

Entrepreneurs can choose from three levels of monthly plans and have 24/7 access to the shared commercial kitchen. REDI and The Loop also provide entrepreneurs with business coaching, shared branding, pop-ups, and other promotions to help them succeed.

What are the benefits of a shared kitchen?

Jay says CoMo Cooks benefits the economy in Mid-Missouri by providing accessible, inclusive, and affordable commercial kitchen space for starting and expanding local food-based businesses.

“The local economy will only become stronger and more resilient as more diverse culinary ventures have access to resources, such as the shared commercial kitchen,” Jay says.

He adds that “by having a communal space for chefs, bakers, and caterers that works with the Health Department, those businesses will already understand proper food safety protocols when they are preparing to open their food truck or brick-and-mortar location.”

Having a shared commercial kitchen space also removes some common obstacles among food entrepreneurs. Financial concerns are the most common issue for up and coming culinary businesses, as well as committing to large leases or vehicle loans as chefs prepare to move their venture out of their homes for the first time.

“Home kitchens are rarely certified by the health department,” Jay says. “The fact that our shared commercial kitchen is certified by the health department already removes a lot of barriers for entrepreneurs wanting to step foot into the food industry.”

To learn more about the shared commercial kitchen or how REDI can support your ideas and help launch your startup, contact Jay at (573) 441-5546 or Jay.Sparks@CoMo.gov.

Support for Entrepreneurs: Podcast Studio

The podcast studio at REDI in Columbia, Missouri aims to remove barriers to producing audio narratives

Podcasts can be big business for entrepreneurs looking to show off their brand. For companies that can pick a topic, produce a show worth listening to, and successfully promote it, podcasts have proven to deliver results.

But stepping into the podcast industry requires navigating a set of barriers. Finances can prevent businesses and entrepreneurs from purchasing high-quality equipment such as microphones, headphones, and a soundproofed room to record in.

“To get quality-sounding audio and have everything you need to produce a podcast at your fingertips, there is a base level cost for equipment and hardware,” says Jay Sparks, Entrepreneurship Coordinator at Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI). “That base level cost can prevent businesses from doing something they wish to do because they don’t have the necessary finances.”

With funding from The Bank of Missouri, REDI has removed real obstacles for entrepreneurs in Mid-Missouri with the creation of their podcast studio. The podcast studio, located at REDI’s offices on Walnut Street, is equipped to record podcasts or other narrative projects. The podcast studio is also equipped for streaming video for Twitch or YouTube.

“The project was a way to remove the barrier of entry to people that would like to record a podcast or do audio work for their business,” Jay says.

Jay said the podcast studio is currently open to REDI Hub clients, investors, and Missouri Women’s Business Center clients. The goal is to open the podcast studio to the general public in the future.

REDI’s mission, spelled out nearly 30 years ago, is still the focus of REDI’s work today: Increase economic opportunities, maintain our community’s superior quality of life, recruit new businesses, retain existing business and assist with expansion, and support new business startups. To learn more about the podcast studio at REDI in Columbia, Missouri or how REDI can support your business idea, contact Jay at (573) 441-5546 or Jay.Sparks@CoMo.gov.